Goethe, Horizons and Thresholds

Saturday – new horizons await a friend, a colleague and a mentor as he moves on from our school. He is the person who hired me into our school division. And, he’s someone who in action, thought and approach is a character developing leader worthy of Goethe’s quote (below) because he’s able to encourage and bring forth the best contribution people have to offer among our team. He lives this out in practice, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. And, his farewell party – a remembrance and celebration of the impact he’s had on people’s lives – is something I’ve had to miss being a Dad who has needed to bring home his son and his son’s gear from University. My contribution to my colleague’s farewell was an Animoto slideshow, a collection of images taken from various points in his thirty-year career – memorable, memorable times (like the fun we had skidooing and coming upon a saucy lynx that wouldn’t be bothered about getting out of our way). My wife went in my stead with our friends to the farewell celebration.

That was Saturday night, a night memorable also because I wasn’t there yet was thinking about all its goings-on.  The photographs, here, are taken roughly at the same time of night that this colleague’s farewell celebration would have been in full swing.  I stopped in my drive to look around with my camera lens because I know my friend and mentor would want me to. This week has been about offering photography as a contribution to the school’s dinner theater. The Northern Actors’ Guild, our school theater troupe, is presenting the musical, Grease. It’s been fun working with students and staff to create a visual record of rehearsals and headshot portraits for foyer display. Students in high school are at the tail-end of adolescence still metamorphosing into adult form – photography, here, along with the actor’s costumes acknowledges state of change, a step closer to or perhaps into adulthood.  It shocks and surprises – the new state does not always assimilate easily in terms of understanding one’s identity.

Perhaps that is something else that photography is – a record of threshold moments.

Listening to – Over the Rhine’s Spark, Patty Griffin’s Tomorrow Night, Mindy Smith’s Train Song and Dar Williams’ Mercy of the Fallen.  I-Nine performs Same in Any Language and Ryan Adams, his She Wants to Play Hearts. Then there’s Bruce Cockburn’s Pacing the Cage and David Gray’s Tidal Wave which rounds out into Over the Rhine’s Born.

Quote to Inspire – “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa

15 Comments on “Goethe, Horizons and Thresholds

  1. I believe you are right, photography truly is a record of threshold moments, and your series of photos here are really lovely, and tranquil. They will always be reminders to you of your mentor who has moved on.

    The quote he lives by tells me that he must be a great teacher. 🙂

    • Hey there, Joanne:

      Definitely a great teacher, definitely someone who can make a positive dent in students’ lives … especially with our hard-cases. 🙂 Thanks for looking in ….

      • I do believe though, that the quote that he lived by would have given many of the hard-cases hope, and perhaps even a sense of worth.

      • Hey there, Joanne:

        Here’s one of his quotes used with hard-cases – “You can’t talk yourself out of something you behaved yourself into. You can only behave yourself out.” – Tim Hurson.


  2. What a beautiful story, and wonderful photos! Thank-you for sharing this with us 🙂

    • Hey there, Colleen:

      And, then there’s this morning – another Dad moment of taking my son to begin his first summer job at the local lumber company. The story, our stories continue ….

      Take good care of your good self:)

  3. It must feel good to be close enough. : )

    I have always liked that Goethe quote. So true. ~ Lily

    • Hey there, Lily:

      Here’s another one of his quotes, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill.


    • … and it does feel good to be close enough 🙂 … but that recognition is usually beyond the camera and in front of a computer ….

  4. You write, “Perhaps that is something else that photography is – a record of threshold moments.” YES IT IS!

    I enjoy reading your posts and looking at you photography. Thank you for “liking” my images; this means a lot to me because I respect your work.

    • Hey there, Mona:

      I’m reading a John O’Donohue book these days – a book of blessings; and, one area of blessing is about thresholds. He’s explaining the region or arena needing blessing prior to the blessing as attached to action … if this makes sense. The blessing itself describes what we’ll need within action or being acted upon … I’ll need to think through the dynamic of blessing a little more. But, I’m enjoying what its about.

      Your photography of the city waterworks structure in the golden hour of light is beautiful, the kind of beauty that sustains the beholder. Good! 🙂

      • It sounds as if I need to read his book as I am on a threshold at this very moment … well, I’ve put one foot across the threshold.

        Thank you for the comment about the water. I looked at them for 2 weeks before deciding to post them. I’m usually not very good with water, but was relatively happy with these images, especially because of the golden hue (truly the golden hour of light that day).

        The place is actually a very nice building in a new city park that is used for weddings, events, and performances. There is a negative edge pool with the water cascading over the wall, which is what you can see in the pictures. I have driven past this park a thousand times (I don’t think that a hyperbole), viewing it only from the freeway. About a month ago, I was itching to take pictures, found myself there, and stayed for 3 hours. I took these shots http://monahoward.com/page/2/ (Night Bridges, 2 Subjects, Life, & Path) that day.

        2 weeks later I returned & stayed at least 4 hours. That time I got the shots for Together, Yoga, & perspicacious: http://monahoward.com/

        It has now become my favorite safe place to shoot.

      • Hey there, Mona:

        It’s neat when what happens is that we open ourselves up to exploring a subject … it’s sort of a threshold stance in letting what will be revealed reveal itself and take us toward understanding it visually. It’s a repeated effort that likely happens when we’re drawn to the subject and explore more and more of it. What’s evident is that you are thinking things through beyond the photograph and finding satisfaction within the images. Good. Also, the business of staying three hours is almost transcendent. Good x2!

        Probably more than a safe place to shoot … perhaps one that intrigues.


  5. The photos of the birds on the reeds, is that what they are, are really amazing. I also really love the fence post.

    • Hey there, Leanne:

      I loved your latest photos … with the texture, colours, patterns and moods …. With birds I think the secret is to plan to hang around a place they frequent and lurk. In this case the birds were aiming to distract me from their nest. The reeds – we’d call them cattails. 🙂

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